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Buying antique jewelry is fun! What a wonderful way to learn the history and culture of times gone by and please yourself and your loved ones at the same time.

Perhaps the Victorian period appeals to your romantic side or maybe the Belle Époque because of a love for French cuisine. The dashing and dynamic Art Deco period sounds intriguing and fun. Not to miss, of course, are the wonders of Art Nouveau!

When choosing pieces from any period it is always wise to consult a reputable dealer that you know and trust. The following are examples of useful questions to ask:

  • Has the jewelry been repaired and, if so, how?
  • Are the fittings correct and unaltered?
  • Is the piece original in the condition in which it is offered or have there been any alterations or additions? Occasionally, several parts have been ‘married’ and although the item might look pretty it would not be considered to be in mint condition. It would therefore not have the value of an original mint piece of similar style and materials.

When choosing items for your personal collection or as a gift for the special someone, price will probably be a consideration. Various metals, i.e. gold versus silver versus platinum, would generally dictate price. However, throughout the18th and 19th centuries some remarkable and wearable jewelry that can be quite costly was made in some unusual materials such as the surprisingly delicate Berlin ironwork. In fine and mint condition, Berlin ironwork pieces are difficult to find and would fetch a premium price.

Other examples of highly desirable antique jewelry are those pieces fashioned using Shakudo. These Japanese mixed metal pieces, many of which originally decorated the samurai swords, were incorporated into beautiful jewelry for the Western marketplace in the latter half of the 19th century during the aesthetic period.

Fortunately, fabulous antique jewelry can also be obtained and enjoyed at reasonable prices if your choices include items made of materials other than gold, silver or platinum. Beautiful and collectible jewelry has been made for centuries in various materials such as gunmetal, jet, gutta-percha, iron, wood, chrome and even base metal.

During the Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts periods, materials such as bone, ivory, horn and enamels were popular and combined with semi-precious stones for gorgeous and wearable jewelry. In the Art-Deco period materials such as chrome and Bakelite were used to make fun and dramatic jewelry that is highly collectible. Sometimes these materials were combined with precious stones for added pizzazz.

Whatever your chosen period, always buy the very best example of the period that your budget will bear. As you add to your collection look for complementary pieces that might be worn and enjoyed together and never rush to make a purchase until you can be sure that you will love and enjoy the item for a long time. Then you can wear your antique jewelry with pride and enjoy telling the stories and history behind your collection when others admire your fabulous finds.